So in the end, Arsenal and Sheffield United could not come to an agreement on a transfer fee for Aaron Ramsdale.
When reports first broke of a deal, £40million was floated about.
This value was clearly leaked from the Sheffield side who set their value on the player they had signed for £18.5 million 12 months before. Arsenal were never going to pay that much for someone who would spend his first 12 months as 2nd choice keeper.
By the time the two parties sat down for face to face talks yesterday, Sheffield United were reportedly happy to accept £24million rising to around £30million.
Arsenal’s limit was reportedly £18million.
This feels cheap considering Ramsdale went for more than that 12 months ago.
Edu and his team were clearly trying to take advantage of the situation – Covid19, Sheffield United’s relegation and Ramsdale wanting to come to Arsenal.
I would imagine the deal would have been £18million + some add ons to take it closer to £24million. But the teams were too far apart and Arsenal walked away.
Both sides are right in their thinking.
Arsenal had a value of Ramsdale and did not want to pay more for him. Every extra £1 spent on Ramsdale is £1 less we can spend elsewhere; whilst Sheffield United know they have a player with 3 years left on his deal so are not in a huge rush to sell.
So what now?
The obvious thing is Arsenal will move on to other targets; possibly West Brom’s Sam Johnstone.
Ramsdale was always first choice above Johnstone as the club believed at 23-years-old he could possibly develop into a number 1 with Bernd Leno expected to depart next summer. Johnstone will more likely be a number 2.
Signing Ramsdale would have meant next season (depending on the Englishman’s development) we would be in the market for a number 2 with Ramsdale being “promoted” – and if Arthur Okonkwo progressed we might not have needed to sign a keeper at all.
With Johnstone, he would act as the cover for Leno and they we would have to move for a new starting keeper next summer; with Johnstone remaining as 2nd choice.
Now that man could be some fans favourite Andre Onana.
Onana has been a long-term target for the club for some time but the deal is complicated:
- Onana is suspended until November
- There is an African Cup of Nations in January
- Onana would want to be first choice; which would mean we would have to sell Leno
- But it would be silly selling Leno with Onana set to miss 5 months of the season
So whilst plenty cry “Onana is only £8million” we can not have both Onana and Leno in the same squad (especially without European football) and having just Onana would leave us without a first choice keeper for 5 months.
With Onana’s contract expiring next summer, signing Johnstone now for the £18million we were prepared to pay for Ramsdale and then getting the Ajax keeper next summer to replace Leno makes a lot of sense.
What also makes sense is if we secure Johnstone quickly, it might open the door for Leno to depart this summer and Onana also joins.
Johnstone would then be first choice whilst Onana sits out his ban and disappears to his home country for the African Cup of Nations.
Another scenario is that we return for Ramsdale in 12 months.
As mentioned above, if we sign Johnstone and Leno remains, we would be in the market for a new keeper next summer. Leno will leave.
If no one has picked up Ramsdale and Sheffield United fail to get promoted, his value would drop.
Next summer he has 2 years left on his contract and a failure to get promoted will cost Sheffield United a lot of money with reducing parachute payments.
A deal could be easier to make and Ramsdale might push more for it.
The World Cup is in November and December 2022. Ramsdale will unlikely make Gareth Southgate’s squad if he is still in the Championship. Especially as the likes of Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson and Nick Pope will all be playing regular first team Premier League football.
So summer 2022, Ramsdale might be pushing for a move to the Premier League in the hope that 4 months of top flight football lead to Southgate picking him.
The Ramsdale deal is still not dead. It might just happen in 12 months time. Arsenal also have other options on the table. It is just about making the maths work.